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Truckee Meadows Community College

Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC), part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, is located in the Reno/Sparks area of northern Nevada. TMCC offers over 50 degree and certificate programs towards university transfer, occupational training, and career enhancement. Enrolling over 13,000 students annually, it is the fastest growing community college in northern Nevada.

The Bio 2010 report from the National Academies recommends that all students be encouraged to pursue research as early as practical in their education (National Research Council, 2003).  Indeed, many scientists cite undergraduate research as the compelling experience that lead to their career in science (Wei and Woodin, 2011).  TMCC is proud to be a partner institution of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) towards this goal at 2-year colleges.

Through CCURI, TMCC is developing a "Research Experience" course, where students will gain competency in experimental design, laboratory techniques, problem-solving ability, data collection and analysis, and communication of scientific information through open-ended investigation of telomere length and telomerase activity in various animal species.


  • Lance Bowen, Ph.D.

  • Laura Briggs, Ph.D.

  • Melissa Deadmond, Ph.D.

  • Julie Ellsworth, Ph.D.

  • Hamid Mohammadpour, Ph.D.

  • Cherie Singer, Ph.D.

  • Tina Slowan-Pomeroy, B.S.


Telomeres are guanine-rich tandem DNA repeats on the ends of chromosomes that provide chromosomal stability and protection against chromosomal fusion, recombination, and terminal DNA degradation.  The lengths of telomeres shorten with cell replication and response to oxidative damage.  This predicted telomere loss and rate of shortening correlate with age, fitness, lifespan, and susceptibility to several diseases and may inspire numerous investigations into the role of telomere dynamics in different life histories (Hiyama E and Hiyama K, 2007; Olson et. al, 2012).


Students will analyze the lengths of telomeres in domestic pets and other species of local interest (i.e Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi, Lohontan cutthroat trout, and Gopherus agassizii, Mojave desert tortoise)  and investigate potential correlations between telomere length and various characteristics (lifestyle and nutrition of domestic pets; mammalian v. reptilian species).


Vision and Change Implementation

Integrate Core Concepts and Competencies throughout the Curriculum

  • Define learning goals so that they focus on teaching students the core concepts, and align assessments so that they assess the students’ understanding of these concepts 

  • Relate abstract concepts in biology to real ­world examples on a regular basis, and make biology content relevant by presenting problems in a real ­life context 

  • Stimulate the curiosity students have for learning about the natural world

  • Demonstrate both the passion scientists have for their discipline and their delight in sharing their understanding of the world with students


Focus on Student ­Centered Learning

  • Engage students as active participants, not passive recipients, in all undergraduate biology courses

  • Use multiple modes of instruction in addition to the traditional lecture

  • Ensure that undergraduate biology courses are active, outcome oriented, inquiry driven, and relevant

  • Facilitate student learning within a cooperative context

  • Integrate multiple forms of assessment to track student learning

  • Give students ongoing, frequent, and multiple forms of feedback on their progress


Promote a Campus wide Commitment to Change

  • Mobilize all stakeholders, from students to administrators, to commit to improving the quality of undergraduate biology education

Engage the Biology Community in the Implementation of Change

  • Provide all biology faculty with access to the teaching and learning research referenced throughout this report, and encourage its application when developing courses 

  • Create active ­learning environments for all students, even those in first ­year biology courses

  • Encourage all biologists to move beyond the “depth versus breadth” debate. Less really is more

High Impact Practices Implementation


Undergraduate Research

Collaborative Assignments and Projects

Common Intellectual Experiences

First-Year Seminars and Experiences

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